Season 3 EP#81 Sloth Philosophy: Being Busy Isn’t a Badge of Honor
Hello, future ancestors!
Lately I've been in sloth training, and that means slowing down while learning how to still feel safe doing so.
It's been over three months since I've returned from my sabbatical, and coming back to Los Angeles was a lot to take in after being unplugged. And so many of you may know that I ended up spending time on a farm watching over nine goats, five chickens, five cats and two dogs for my friend Montez as she was out of town. I tried to use that time to refocus on coming back strong, but instead I preferred to hang out with the goats. I would highly encourage you to listen to my last solo episode about lessons in farm sitting if you'd like to hear more about that experience. And what many people don't know is that I actually left the farm to work at an event in Florida where I was asked to help coach a training for about 100 aspiring speakers. But I ended up with Laryngitis that whole entire week.
Main topics discussed:
- Scaling a business: is it worth it?
- Finding congruency between hedonism and spiritual living
- Trusting that less is more as a collective desire
- How to release responsibility for other people’s suffering
- Why I’m hosting an international retreat centered on storytelling and sensuality
So here I am at a speaker's training and I could barely use my voice. Our hotel is on the beach overlooking the ocean, and yet here we are in these large conference rooms without any windows, experiencing 15-hour days and getting 5 hours of sleep a night, if we are lucky. It also doubled as entrepreneurial training. So we're teaching our students about how to scale your business and how to reach multiple six figures. I could see the frazzled looks on people's faces as they felt the pressure to do more. I could feel the ways our students were trying so hard to perfect their story with their voices without giving their bodies a chance to feel it in their bones. I could see the tiredness. And in that moment, I wished nothing more than to invite everyone to go outside and put their feet in the sand, let the ocean take care of you and wash away your worries.
Maybe it's because I just came from the farm or that I had the opportunity to experience what spaciousness feels like in my body from that respite and all of that time away. It was a stark contrast for me being immersed in Mother Nature while taking a big break from running a growing online business where I was tethered to my screen. Now, I'm going to be radically honest with you about my journey.
A year ago, I had at least 20 clients all at once that I was mostly seeing on Zoom. I was making an average of $15,000 a month in revenue. I had an office space. I had a team, hiring other coaches to assist me with carrying the vision forward. I was the star student of many of my mentors, often featured as a successful case study and testimonial for their businesses.
But what people didn't see behind the scenes was that I was also navigating health challenges within my family while moving through my own bout of grief and heartbreak. And while I was helping so many others birth their story medicine, I felt like I barely had any time to tend to my own. It was inevitable that I would burn out from trying to hold it all together. I was trying to prove to my younger, broke, activist and struggling artist self that I could take care of her. I also wanted to prove to my parents and to myself that I could do this without a man until trying to prove to others, including or especially myself, became a job I didn't realize that I created for myself. So from there, I cut expenses, I shut down all of my programs, I closed my calendars, I got rid of my office, and I literally disappeared into a jungle to rediscover my medicine.
Accidentally losing my phone was the biggest blessing because I was really forced to look within without any distractions. And I talk a lot more about that in my solo podcast episode. The first one when I came back was called, Integration: Journey Through the Spiritual Underground. So you can go back and check that out. You see, I thought that I would move through this grief quicker by busying myself with my business, but the opposite was true. And when I came back, I thought that I was ready to return full force. My team and I worked really hard to promote my six month program again, but to blossom. And while we were almost halfway filled, my body was experiencing a lot of contractions along the way.
The majority of time, I would hop on a zoom call with someone who expressed an interest in joining, I just became completely honest with them. I don't think you need another program right now. I think what you actually need is a break.
Over and over again, people would share their gratitude for my honesty, because it's also my responsibility within my services to be in integrity with my own medicine beyond trying to make any sale. Your Story Medicine grew at a time when people were stuck at home, and my drive was to support healers with learning how to transition their services online while being able to reach more people beyond their own community with their story while getting compensated for it. Many of my clients have walked away from our time together, quitting their jobs, leaving unhealthy relationships, starting their own online businesses as a side or full time hustle, and so much more. It was a time where the only way we could generate community was behind these screens.
And while it was an abundant time for me monetarily, I also have to be honest with where I'm at today.
I don't want to be behind a computer all day like how I used to, nor do I have the capacity to hold all of that space like I once did before, especially if I want to make time to create art again. And nurture my younger self that grew up too soon. And I have to release this story that people will only want to work with me if I can support them with having some sort of tangible product or outcome so that they could feel like they got their money's worth, which is what I was taught to do and what I passed down to others.
And while these strategies did work for those that applied it, I noticed that so many people were burning out around me from also trying to hold it all together. I had to ask myself, when will it ever be enough? Which then translated into when will I ever be enough?
So I had to learn how to take my own medicine by honoring that less is more.
I also realized how challenging it was for so many people to take a break. Instead, it was this pressure to learn more and do more. And I felt even my own challenge to just be. I felt like I was being asked to let go and surrender even more so than what I thought I had. And so I shut down my program again, which meant losing a predictable amount of income I had planned for. Even though I had almost filled my program halfway well before the deadline, a part of me was asking myself, did I give up too soon? But also was this offering just no longer in alignment?
I had learned how to create a successful business, but at what expense beyond monetary? And why would I want to put others down the same trajectory as me if I'm feeling this way?
So something had to change, and it just wasn't worth the money anymore.
A friend of mine asked me, what is it I truly want in life now? And I responded with being a forest or a jungle sloth fairy. Okay, I know that sloths get a bad rep and are considered lazy, but I'm reading this book called The Little Book of Sloth Philosophy and one of the lines says part of slowing down and embracing the sloth philosophy is realizing you don't have to do everything or be all things to everyone. Being busy isn't a badge of honor if you're miserable.
I found myself getting swept away by the hustle and grind culture since returning from my sabbatical, needing to meet the same outcomes as I did last year, and I was falling back into old habits that I thought I had escaped. It was as if the only way to actually experience the presence that I preach was by completely unplugging myself away from society.
I went to my childhood Buddhist temple and consulted with two modern day monks about my challenges of choosing a spiritual life where I could be immersed in nature, tending to my inner world, and being here in the city. Where I could be of service to others that were caught in the Wheel of Samsara or plugged into the matrix without a clue of how to break free from it. And what's funny is that the monks said to me, june, why do you think we're only here in America for half the year? The other half, we go back to the forest in Thailand where people need to travel to find us. It's where we go to recharge.
So choose your priority and create your offerings in a way that supports this lifestyle.
Granted, these Buddhist monks only own two articles of clothing and have their heads shaved while renouncing themselves from the pursuit of external beauty and success. However, you could clearly see the ways that they glow from within. Above that, one of the monks named Nick Keomahavong, which is a Laotian name. Though he was born and raised here or born in a refugee camp in Thailand and raised here in the United States, he actually has gained a huge YouTube following of over a quarter million subscribers, where he preaches the Dharma Weekly, and it doesn't cost anything to access this. As a result of his teachings, I have noticed an increase of people coming to visit this temple, our temple, where I grew up, even folks flying across the country or sometimes the world, to come and learn from him. In Nick's former life, he was actually a very successful therapist based in Malibu, California, where many of his clients had all of the money in the world but were spiritually impoverished. He also mentioned how many of his colleagues were struggling with their own relationships in spite of being marriage and family therapists. And he wanted to live a life of congruency where he no longer felt like a fraud.
I love how he tells the story of being in a lobby with his colleagues while somebody cracked a joke that wasn't funny at all, but he just laughed along with everyone anyway, and that's when he felt the emptiness inside. So he chose to take a break from his job to temporarily ordain as a monk and get a taste of this life of renunciation. And so he flew to Thailand and was asked to relinquish all of his titles and material possessions, shave his head. And he said the other monks nicknamed him “Hollywood Boy” because he was also a professional hip hop dancer on the side that had to give up his nice clothes and hairstyle.
And it was in that time away where he had to experience an ego death, stripping away his own ideas of what success was supposed to look like. I'm telling a glimpse of his story because he doesn't feature on other people's podcasts, not out of ego, but as a way to protect his own energy from being spread way too thin. So if you're inspired by this story at all, then I highly recommend checking out his YouTube channel for more, which I will link in the show notes. Now, this might give the impression that the only way to experience true inner peace is by renouncing oneself of all material possessions as well to become a forest monk. And if I'm being honest, it's something that I have contemplated. But let's be real. Are you willing to give up having a secure job, a house, own only two pairs of clothing, shave your head, which I did once on Red Table Talk, not date, get married or have sex in order to become a monk? Not to mention no food after 12:00 p.m.. And in addition to the five precepts of Buddhism, take on 227 rules of monastic living?
Yeah, I don't think so.
It may sound peaceful, but it takes some real dedication to commit to that kind of life. And personally, I know that that's not my dharma. I do enjoy pleasure, I smoke weed, and I am an advocate for plant medicine. I like dancing, dating, creating, and doing a lot of the things that monks are forbidden to do.
But how do I, too, find congruence with a spiritual life and hedonism?
And something else I've been taught from my spiritual teachers is that pleasure is not a bad thing if it is truly rooted in the opportunity to bring more peace, joy and beauty into the world. After all, isn't that what we need more of nowadays?
Many people may question what their Dharma is, and when I first started this journey, I thought that it meant needing to do something grand, like impacting millions of people to leave some sort of epic legacy behind. But to take my own medicine means that none of these tangible external outcomes matter if we don't even know how to treat a cashier with kindness.
My dear friend, Reverend Brianna Lynn, who I'm calling in to be on this podcast, recently shared about how our push for a new paradigm sounds a lot like colonization.
There is really no agenda to push. And what is the point of speaking in front of millions of people or making millions of dollars as a spiritual leader or influencer if you can't even call your mom to ask how she's doing since your last argument. No amount of money, followers, clients or accolades are worth it if we are not feeling that abundance, security, and love vibrating from within. Otherwise, we will continue chasing for that external validation and approval outside of ourselves. And that is exhausting when I envision myself as an elder looking back on life.
It's why I'm leaning into fear, curiosity and excitement for this next season of Your Story Medicine, and how my offerings are evolving with me to reflect the intimacy that I desire. Which means less intellect, more intuition, less chasing, more magnetizing, less screen time, more nature, less consuming, more creating, less stagnation, more movement, less strategy, more imagination, less hustle, more play, and less spiritual awakening. And more sleep. Honestly though, again, less is more.
Can I trust that I'm not the only one craving such things?
Especially when it opposes so much of what I've been taught. And here's the thing about less or even attempting to rest. Sure, you can take a vacation or a self care day, but how many of us are still afraid to put up our away messages and find ourselves still checking our emails during this time? Or how many of you are disabling notifications? But work, family, and an extensive to do list is still on your mind, so you're not really off.
Look, I’ve been guilty of this too. And the reality is our minds are like puppy dogs that need to be trained. This is also known as the monkey mind. Yet so many of us are actually busy distracting ourselves from the ability to feel our discomfort versus learning how to be still and sit with it until it becomes a faithful companion.
So that's why I'm shifting the ways I'm showing up to create these kinds of insights for others.
I recently announced how I will be hosting my first international retreat in Costa Rica, in the same area where I spent my sabbatical to give others a taste of this kind of liberation. Because sometimes we need to completely remove ourselves from our comfort zones to allow our nervous system to resettle. It's not the space to get more training, healing or personal development, but instead the place for us to remember what brings us joy again, which is less about the doing or need to produce, but to simply be without an attachment to a specific outcome. Because it is oftentimes in that spaciousness where the clarity will arise, just as it has with me.
My mother reminds me that many spiritual leaders had to leave their community and go on their own spiritual quest before returning to share their lessons learned. But they didn't come back to preach or try to convince others to join them. People around them could naturally feel the shift in their energy without words being spoken.
When we are able to learn how to find that calm and stillness within, we naturally become that place of refuge for others.
But it also doesn't mean that we feel responsible to carry other people's suffering. The moment we get into rescue mode is oftentimes where we take away that agency of other people's capacity to become their own healers. And the best way for you to be that healer for someone else is to be a witness without feeling the need to fix them. And the real challenge is learning how to do that first within ourselves. It means breaking out of your own need to be saved by others by becoming an active observer of your own thoughts and emotions and the attachments to any stories that may be creating that internal suffering. That attachment can especially be to an idea that you had of who or what you thought you were supposed to be. And in Taoism, there is a quote that says when you let go of who you are, you become who you might be. And yet, so many of us feel this pressure to stay within our jobs, relationships, businesses and more out of fear of disappointing others and their perceptions of us, even when it is suffocating us inside.
And if we are suffering, then that seed gets spread to those around us. Which is why we need to take time to get to the root of it so that we can pull it from there. Versus piling more dirt on top of it as a distraction, which sometimes can look like pouring that energy into helping others before ourselves or numbing the pain and drowning out the voices in our mind through drinking, partying, constantly surrounding ourselves with others versus learning how to be by ourselves as a way to dissociate.
So nourish the soil which you come from by turning your fear into fertilizer for growth and befriend any shame or guilt you may be feeling in your body versus trying to ignore or suppress it. Otherwise it also gets passed down to the next generation, which is the very cycle that we're here to break.
And I want to emphasize that this doesn't mean you need more healing, because sometimes what you actually need is to rediscover that which brings you joy coming back to that childlike curiosity and wonder of life. By the way, please don't do this if others are genuinely dependent on you for support. So before you're tempted to shave your head and become a monk to obtain inner peace, please make sure you also have your affairs in order.
For example, the Buddha didn't completely abandon his child and wife. He ensured that all of their material needs were met before he entered monkhood. And it's said that his wife and son later left the royal palace to become spiritual leaders themselves. So if you're in a place where you are ready to give yourself that spaciousness and awaken the warrior and spiritual leader within you, but you don't necessarily want to become a monk, and you're ready to tap into the wisdom that nature and our bodies have to give. Then this is exactly why I created the ritual retreat which will take place from November 6 to the 13th of this year, 2023.
Now, what is the ritual retreat? This was not only inspired by my time away in the jungle during my sabbatical, but from my weekly sessions close to my home with my sensual embodiment teacher, Netty.
I looked forward to every Thursday night where Netty created the space for us to tap deep into our sensuality through intuitive movements. And it was a place where I genuinely stripped away all of my layers to feel what it was like to move my hips without shame.
I remember it was about two years ago, right before the pandemic hit, where I went to my first class with her, and she brought an extra pair of fishnets for everyone. And it was the first time I had ever worn fishnets in my life. And I was like, OOH, I look good in these. But by the end of class, she had us all rip them off. Talk about a lesson in impermanence. And as someone who had experienced sexual trauma as a child, I had used so much of my brain to bypass the pain that my body had been carrying my whole life. And it was in these classes in the dance studio without the need to impress or without the need to impress another man or to feel that desire from a male gaze, where I began to feel whole again.
It wasn't about choreography, but learning to trust my body and what it wanted, which was really safety and belonging. And it was honestly, because of her influence, where I started to finally desire myself for the first time in my life, which helped me heal my desperate plea to be loved and accepted by others. And when I was able to tap into that energy, it was amazing how this translated into other areas of my life, especially with the kind of people I began to attract. It also anchored in me how many stories that my body was still carrying. And while I could coach others on how to tell their story, I needed to genuinely feel it and give it space to be released.
So the beautiful thing is that Netty also would teach us lessons on how to embody different elements of nature, such as water, earth, air, fire. And I had this wild vision of us actually being immersed in these elements while learning how to communicate and flirt with them through movement and our voices.
So it's a big stretch for me, but I have to say that when I opened the waiting list on my instagram last week for the first time, even without the vision being fully concrete, I was blown away by the response and the desire for a space like this. And this felt so much more easeful and more pleasurable than any of the offerings I've created thus far. While I'm still hashing out the details, I wanted you to at least hear my intentions behind why I created this and for you to co-create this experience alongside me. I have other magics in the work, and my hope is that this will be one of the many experiences I can curate that gets more of us off of our screens to gather in person again. I want to create those spaces for deep integration, friendships, clarity and creativity to emerge and for us to truly embody our life as a ceremony worth celebrating breath by breath, even when times feel challenging. It's especially for people with big hearts who have dedicated their lives in service to others and are ready to be poured into.
And who else doesn't want to experience the ocean or sloths as our neighbors? If it sounds too wild and far out for you, then that's okay. But if this is something that you too are craving a place where you don't have to hold it all together anymore, but where you can unleash your primal self to discover any part of you that may have been suppressed and where you can also experience those moments of silence and stillness without distractions. With Mother Earth as a witness, as well as this beautiful community that I'm pulling together, then this is probably the space for you.
I've often said this in the past, but shame gets released in places where our stories are shared. And this is a return to the foundation of my own medicine, where I get to curate spaces for your stories to be set free while maybe being able to write and embody a new one. Otherwise, I just want to share how I am deep on this journey with you and how my real boss has always been my imagination.
So to recap, if something no longer feels resonant, give yourself permission to change. By the way, I often hear the phrase release what no longer serves you. But that statement annoys the shit out of me. Because life isn't meant to be of service to us.
Instead, I like to rephrase that as set free what no longer feels aligned so that you can make space for what is.
Living the spiritual life doesn't mean completely renouncing oneself of pleasure, but to seek pleasure that creates more joy, peace and beauty in the world. Because when you are able to feel that, that alone is a beautiful offering to the world.
And sometimes we don't need more healing, but a space to rediscover what brings us joy and pleasure.
Sometimes we don't need another program but a break from being productive. Because maybe you don't need to hold it all together. Maybe you too need to disappear into the jungle to twerk it out and primal scream without the fear of being silenced or judged by others. And I genuinely hope that this is one of the many experiences I get to create moving forward.
I thank you for being a witness on this path. Whether you've read a post or on my newsletter, listened to this podcast, have been a friend or student of mine, because it genuinely keeps me going. Especially when I receive kind messages of how these words resonate with you.
And as always, remember that you are your ancestors' wildest dreams have already come true.
You existing alone is already a great contribution to this planet.
And even if an experience like this doesn't call to you, I ask that you give yourself that spaciousness to come back to your own breath. For it is in the awareness of your breath where you will remember what a blessing it is to be alive.
After all, we are all ancestors in the making.
The waiting list is officially OPEN for the Ritual Retreat, our first international experience that will be in Costa Rica from November 6 - 13, 2023!
Join Jumakae and friends for a week immersed in the Caribbean coast and rainforest alongside other women and gender expansive folks as we reconnect with ourselves as a future ancestors through mindfulness, movement, and the power of storytelling at the Goddess Garden.